Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves.
But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
Jesus called them (the disciples) to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.
Keep watch over yourselves and over all the flock, of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son.
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
(Solomon prayed,) “Give me now wisdom and knowledge to go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of yours?” God answered Solomon, “Because this was in your heart, and you have not asked for possessions, wealth, honor, or the life of those who hate you, and have not even asked for long life, but have asked for wisdom and knowledge for yourself that you may rule my people over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge are granted to you. I will also give you riches, possessions, and honor, such as none of the kings had who were before you, and none after you shall have the like.
-II Chronicles 1:10-12
Presidents’ Day: The Leader’s Heart
Today’s holiday honoring presidents triggers a variety of thoughts about leadership. In the work we do with RenewalWorks, one of our strongest findings is that much depends on the leader’s heart.
Politics (mostly) aside, the theme of leadership caused me to remember a wonderful group in my former parish, led by wise members of the community. The group met monthly, under the title of Faith@Work. They facilitated conversations about the intersection between Sunday and the rest of the week, discussions led by leaders from various fields, speakers from our parish and our denomination. The group’s leaders also made it a point to learn from those outside the Episco-bubble. I told you they were wise.
One of the guest speakers who made an impression on me was Harry Kraemer who wrote a book entitled From Values to Action, a book describing principles of leadership. He was head of a really big company in Chicago. A devoted Roman Catholic, he worked hard to bring his values to his work. He spoke about a daily practice which I envy. It included morning reflection on how he might live into his values for the coming day, and an evening review of how successful he had been in putting those values into action. I admired his rule of life. I’m pretty good at the morning thing, but I tend to nod off when I try evening reflection.
In his book, he identified four essential principles of leadership which he shared with our group. I’m guessing that Monday readers are leaders in one way or another, leaders in households, schools, churches, places of business. So see if these four principles speak to you.
Self-reflection: The ability to reflect and identify what you stand for, what your values are and what matters most. For me, a big part of this has to do with mindfulness, awareness, which often comes with intentional quiet time. Where in your life do you find this quiet time?
Balance and perspective: The ability to see situations from multiple perspectives, including differing viewpoints to give a holistic understanding. For me, this principle is reflected in the baptismal covenant which asks us to seek Christ in all persons, loving neighbor as self. Where might you take a wider view in your own life? What perspectives are you not including? What unexpected person might be your teacher?
True self-confidence: Enabling you to accept yourself as you are, recognizing your strengths and weaknesses and focusing on continuing improvement. For me, this principle has everything to do with an embrace of grace, the confidence that comes from the belief that we don’t have to prove our worth, our value. In God’s economy, that has already been established. How can you celebrate that spirit of acceptance in your own life today?
Genuine humility: The ability never to forget who you are, to appreciate the value of each person in the organization and to treat everyone respectfully. For me, this goes back to the baptismal promise which calls us to respect the dignity of every human being, those across the dining room table, those in the next cubicle, those next to us in the pew, those who happen to watch a different cable channel. What kind of challenge does that represent for you this week
On this President’s Day, I suspect we all have thoughts about how these principles might go to work in our nation in the interesting times in which we live. Say a prayer for all those in positions of power on this holiday.
While we may or may not be able to affect any of that, we can take a few moments on this day off to see how Mr. Kraemer’s principles might be woven into our own lives, in whatever way we may lead. That would be cause for celebration. Even worthy of a day off.
Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.